With this post Hazrat Inayat Khan concludes his lecture on the purity of life. The previous post in the series may be found here.
External purity or cleanliness does not have much effect on the purity, but inner uncleanness such as bitterness and spite against another causes disease both inwardly and outwardly. However, when one has gone through this process and has tried to keep one’s body and mind, one’s life and character pure, then there comes a stage of still greater, higher purity, and that is attained by a good ideal, by a righteous path, by good action, by good thoughts. One has to train oneself to become free from all foreign impressions. In that phase of one’s journey one has to keep one’s mind away from all but God. Then all that one thinks about, all that one feels, all that one sees and admires, all that one touches and perceives, is God. This is the greater purity, in which no thought or feeling are allowed to come into the heart but God alone. For instance, in the picture of an artist such a person sees God, in the merit of the artist he sees God, in the color and brushwork of the artist, in the eye of the artist, which observe nature, in the faculty of the artist, which produces the picture, such a one sees the perfection of God. And therefore to him God becomes all, and all becomes God.
When he has arrived at this purity, there are many things which will come in his life to test him: his enemy, who annoys him; those whom he cannot bear; those whom he does not like; those who are intolerant to him. He will come in contact with situations that are difficult. There always comes an occasion for him to give up that purity for a moment, and every moment that purity becomes poisoned, it is that moment in the life of a sage which for him is a sin. I remember the words of my murshid, who said, “Every moment that God is absent from one’s consciousness is a moment of sin,” and when God is continually in one’s consciousness, every moment is virtue.
Therefore, when a person has arrived at that pitch, he lives in virtue. For him, virtue is not a thing which from time to time he expresses or experiences, but his life itself is virtue; what he says and does and what is done to him is all virtue; and that shows that virtue is not one little experience; virtue is purity of life. Really, I would not consider virtue a worthwhile thing if it came and went away. It is only worthwhile when it lives with us, when we can depend upon it, and when we can live and move and have our being in it. That is worthwhile. If it only came for a moment, and if it visited us for one minute, it is not a virtue and we would rather not have it. We would rather prefer poverty to the wealth which came for a moment and went away. Therefore, this is the stage when man begins to understand what virtue means. He begins to see a glimpse of virtue. What he knew before he thought to be virtue, but now life in its entirety becomes virtue to him; he lives in it and life to him means virtue. Properly speaking, it is lack of life which is sin.
But then there is a further purity, and that is the purity of freedom from the thought of oneself – and by thought of oneself I do not mean the thought of one’s real self, but of one’s limited self. Thought of one’s limitation covers what is true in one’s being, one’s true self. It is this limitation which makes one feel at times that, “I am good,” or “I am bad.” In this final phase one realizes, “I am perfect, nor does bad make me imperfect.” Good and bad do not exist when one is above them. It is purity from all shapes and colors, from all forms of life. It is like rising above heaven and hell and it is like touching the throne of God. It is just like bathing in the truth of God. This is real exaltation, when one has risen above one’s limitation and has become conscious of that perfection Whom we call God, Whom we worship and Whom we love, and Who is the ultimate purpose of our life.
God bless you.